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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 August 2018

Gazans left to mourn dead again after Israel bombards strip

Mohammed Badwan, 27, was killed by sniper fire east of Gaza City in Friday protests

Palestinian relatives react as they arrive at the morgue of the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City where the body of Mohammed Badwan was brought after he was shot dead by Israeli forces during protests along the border east of Gaza City. AFP
Palestinian relatives react as they arrive at the morgue of the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City where the body of Mohammed Badwan was brought after he was shot dead by Israeli forces during protests along the border east of Gaza City. AFP

On the shoulders of friends and relatives lay 27-year-old Mohammed Badwan. Calling for his soul to rest in peace, they carried him from Gaza City’s Al Shifa Hospital, his body wrapped in a Turkish flag at his request, to his home in the Al Zaytoon neighbourhood east of the enclave’s largest population centre.

The young Gazan was shot and killed by Israeli sniper fire on Friday on the eastern Gaza border with Israel. He was participating in protests against Israel’s siege that have taken place every week since March 30 and was a member of the tyre unit, a group of young Gazans who have flown kites and balloons attached with flaming rags into Israeli territory.

In a crowded room, women in black surrounded Na’ema Badwan, the 46-year-old mother of Mohammed, who could not hide her shock at losing one of her five sons.

“After Mohammed ate his lunch then he told me that he is going to sleep for a long time because today is the international day of sleeping," she tells The National.

“I went to check on him later to find that he is not in his room and later they told me that Mohammed in the hospital to know that he passed away,” she added.

Mohammed joined the long list of more than 140 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli forces since the protests began.

Israeli bombardment of the strip on Friday, after a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier, the first since the 2014 summer war, left three Hamas fighters dead. Israeli tanks struck two Hamas observation points east of the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Younis.

The Israeli military said its aircraft and tanks targeted 40 Hamas posts in total and that the strikes formed part of a "wide-scale attack" in response to the border shooting. A truce brokered by Egypt and the United Nations between Hamas and Israel began on Saturday after the barrage, the rulers of Gaza confirmed.

Residents in the enclave fear that the territory is on the brink of another outbreak of war despite the delicate truce that has come into effect.

Mahmoud Mortaga, 23 years old, an owner of a nuts shop in Al Zaytoon neighborhood, located some 200 metres from one of Hamas outposts that was targeted, told The National: “I was sitting in front of my shop when suddenly the Israeli warplanes targeted Al-Rawda post, we were so scared.”

"Immediately we closed the shop, we were worry for what could happen especially after we follow the news and heard that a new escalation will happen". Mr Mortaga added.

“After we heard that there is a truce we reopen our shop we felt calm, I don't want a new war that is enough we want to live peacefully,” he added.

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Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said the movement was committed to a lasting truce if Israel was, but that peace would remain elusive if Israel continued its crippling blockade of the enclave.

“The real calmness will be on the ground when Israeli attacks against Palestinians totally stop and the siege of Gaza ends,” he wrote on Twitter.

Israel’s military has yet to comment on the truce but a spokesperson said that civilian life in the Israeli communities near the enclave should return to normal.

Haidar Abu Madeen, the 55-year-old owner of the Palm Village entertainment complex in central Gaza’s Bureij camp, was left to collect metal pieces of the rockets that were landing in his resort from the Israeli air strikes.

The Palm Village was built in 2009 as a site of entertainment for resident of central Gaza. It hosts two wedding halls and three swimming pools with a coffee shop.

“There was a wedding party in one of our halls here. A big chaos happened when the Israeli warplanes targeted the outpost, which is 70 metres away from the village, with six rockets,” he told The National.

“I tried to calm down the people who were in the wedding and asked them to wait so we can evacuate them peacefully,” he added.

The militant outpost was created two years after the construction of the resort, affecting Mr Abu Madeen’s work and costing him around $120,000 since, he says.

“We want to live peacefully without any escalations, this is our right,” Mr Abu Madeen continued.

Mona Sleem, 55, was sitting next to her home 20 metres away from the Essa Al Battran military post in Bureij camp when a strike landed.

“I was sitting peacefully when suddenly a big block hit my left shoulder. If it hit my head, I could be dead now,” she says.

Residents of the area collected metal pieces from the rockets and shrapnel to prevent any harm to those who live nearby. The remains of explosives have become a regular nuisance for those who are lucky to survive but have to live with the after-effects of Israeli bombing campaigns.

“We have lost safety and security. I was inside my home and we cannot be safe,” says the elderly woman.

“This is not a life. I prefer to die than me and all of my sons and daughters having to live such a life.”

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